Artificial Harmonics

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by funkysurfer, Jul 19, 2000.

  1. Hey guys. Lately I have been working on trying to hit artificial harmonics on a consistant basis. The other night I was listening to my Weather Report cd and Jaco totally blew me away with them on his intro to the song Birdland. Man he made it sound so simple, yet it is so complex.
    Previously I would mute the string with my palm, but now I have discovered that I can mute the string (from the front) with the side of my thumb and pluck/pop the string with my index and middle fingers. I can get them using both techniques, but not all the time. I am beginning to think that what I really need to do is get a feel for playing them. However I am asking you guys if there is something I am missing, other than loads of practice at it. Any info you can give me will be appreciated. Oh by the way Michael, I was listening to Teen Town on that cd too and I must say I really enjoy it more when I watch and hear your version of it on my BassDay 98 video. Keep up the great work.
  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    I love the sound of artificial harmonics - I too started by checking out Jaco on Birdland, and the clarity of his playing on there still sounds amazing.

    Technique wise, your description sounds about right. The trick with consistency is a combination of having a visual reference, like the edge of the pickup or the end of the neck, and learned muscle response - it's a bit like playing unlined fretless - you just gotta do it till you stop doing it wrong. Start slowly, and try playing simple melodies, scales and arpeggios consistently one octave up from the fretted note, then try the second harmonic (an octave + a fifth) and then two octaves.

    I've found that through a really huge distorion sound, the harmonics come out so loud! Have a listen to 'The Virtue Of The Small' on my webpage (under real audio) to hear a distorted solo the heavily features artificial harmonics...

    Keep practicing!

  3. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Thanks for your question, Shawn. I can't really add much to Steve's insightful comments, but I thought I'd mention that I too, am always amazed by the clarity of Jaco's harmonics on the beginning of "Birdland." So much so, I've often wondered if that part was actually done on the mandocello (normally an 8-string acoustic instrument tuned like a cello, but electric versions do exist) that Jaco is credited with playing on the record. I never got a chance to ask him -- does anyone on the list know?